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Social inclusion and workers rights being undermined in favour of EU's privatisation agenda - Mary Lou McDonald

10 December, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has said that the EU has to stop paying lip service to social inclusion and start prioritising the eradication of poverty and targeting resources to tackle social need. She said that it is entirely unacceptable that social inclusion and workers rights are bring undermined in favour of the EU‚s privatisation agenda.

Ms McDonald made her comments after the Chamber of Commerce Ireland (CCI) called upon the Taoiseach to speed up national economic and social reform to improve European competitiveness and economic growth so that the EU can become the most productive and competitive economy in the world.

Speaking today, Ms McDonald said:

"The EU's obsession with competitiveness at the expense of the social aspects of the Lisbon Agenda, clearly indicates where the priorities of many European Governments lie. The European Union is failing the most vulnerable people within society. A recent review of the Lisbon Agenda painted a bleak and depressing picture of the EU's economic plan. The social inclusion aspect of the Lisbon Agenda has been undermined and largely ignored in favour of a privatisation agenda and an approach that sees competitiveness only being achieved at the expense of workers' rights.

"68 million people within the EU continue to live in poverty. Both the European Union and national governments have a duty to protect the most vulnerable citizens within our society. The EU has consistently failed to address the social aspects of the Lisbon Agenda. Sinn Féin has consistently called for a refocusing of the priorities of the Lisbon Agenda and calls for the mid-term review of the strategy in 2005 to refocus the policy on sustainable economic development, full employment and social protections.

"The Taoiseach must begin to refocus his priorities at home. There is no point pointing the finger of blame at the EU if governments are not taking the issue of social inclusion seriously at home. This state remains one of the most unequal within the EU, with a widening chasm between rich and poor. Sinn Féin is committed to bridging all of these gaps. Those in power must also play their part." ENDS

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